Best book to read about toxic group dynamics in the work place?

Hi there,

A friend of mine (A sensitive / kind and unselfish individual) is working as a doctor, in an environment that is very competitive/cliquey. (The "norm" id imagine).
Is there a book you could recommend for understanding toxic group dynamics? I want her (And me) to understand them as well as possible, to avoid her personalising other peoples negative behaviour.

Many thanks, Melatonin.

(Edited to add a book link)

I know there is this highly recommended book....I was just wondering if there were others.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hi melatonin, in my opinion the Snakes in Suits you linked is the best book on the subject of workplace psychopaths. Interestingly enough, I read it as a result of extensive workplace politics I experienced, yet I don't think the person who was behind it all was a clinical psychopath. She was just exceptionally manipulative, fake, narcissistic and power hungry. This led me to conclude that psychopaths are like manipulators on steroids but even people without the physiological inefficiencies caused by clinical psychopathy will often resort to the same strategies.

I read the book after the whole drama was over and the person behind it was gone but the book really helped me to "psycho-proof" the company's processes and structure.

Keit provided some really useful resources and there are also recommendations in the Comprehensive Guide for the Serious Reader (non members) thread:

Adaryn said:
(...) You'll also find frequent references on the forum to the "Big Five" psychology books, which are extremely helpful tools towards acquiring a basic understanding of your own "machine". Should you decide to explore those books at some point in the future, Laura suggests that they be read in the following order: The Myth of Sanity by Martha Stout; The Narcissistic Family by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman & Robert M. Pressman; Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb; Unholy Hungers by Barbara Hort; and Character Disturbance by George K. Simon. (...)

The above books are useful because not every workplace bully is a psychopath. Some are just narcissistically wounded people whose behaviours and defense mechanisms make them difficult to deal with.

What helped me with both workplace issues involving difficult people and personal relationships of this kind was learning more about character disturbances, personality issues and mental disorders. I have found the ability to see through the manipulations and the mechanics behind them to be the best way to protect myself - and others around me.

That said, we all are narcissistically wounded to some extent so these books are an incredibly useful journey of self-discovery too.

Last but not least, there's also Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology! The book puts the issue of mental and character disturbances into a larger societal context but I found it to be are equally relevant on a small scale of a business enterprise too.


FOTCM Member
I would add "Nasty People" by Jay Carter to the list.

Here's the summary from Amazon:

Fourteen years since its first publication, the bestsellerNasty People has been revised and updated to cover the motivations of nasty people, how to avoid confrontation with a nasty boss, how to handle a nasty spouse, and much more, including:

How to break the cycle of nastiness
A new understanding of personality disorders and depression
Narcissism, nasty behavior, and self-doubt
Nasty people and self-validation
The role adrenaline plays in nasty behavior and our responses to it.

Everyone knows a person who has been hurt, betrayed, or degraded by nasty individuals or has experienced it themselves. In three books, Jay Carter, Psy. D., shows readers how to stop this cycle of overt and covert abuse, without resorting to nasty tactics. Now for the first time, this series is released together to cover all areas of dealing with difficult people. With straight-talking advice, real-life anecdotes, and psychology that makes sense, Carter explains how to handle and stop painful behavior that harms both the perpetrator and the victim.
Here's an article about the book that will give you an idea what it's about.

10 Methods Nasty People Use And How To Avoid Them
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